Major Requirements

To successfully earn a Bachelor of Arts in Cognitive Science, students must satisfy the general education requirements and take an additional 15 required courses for the major. Beginning with the Class of 2026, courses counting toward the Breadth requirement should be selected from the list of approved Breadth courses (see individual Core Discipline pages for more details). Students in the Classes of 2026 and 2027 will have the option to petition for courses taken prior to the implementation of the new policy to count toward Breadth.


Major courses fall into five categories.


Number of courses required

Introductory Courses: Students explore the core questions, intellectual history, and analytical methods that define and unify cognitive scientific research. 2 (200 units total)
Formal Foundation Courses: Students develop the analytical tools used in different strands of contemporary cognitive scientific research. 2 (200 units total)

Disciplinary Breadth Courses: These courses provide breadth in the core disciplines of cognitive science (Computer Science, Linguistics, Neuroscience, Philosophy, and Psychology).

  •  All approved Breadth courses can alternatively be applied to the Depth requirement (but courses cannot “double count” for Breadth and Depth); see individual Core Discipline pages for more details
5 (1 for each of the core disciplines; 500 units total)
Disciplinary Depth Courses: Depth courses provide additional depth in two core disciplines through exposure to more specific topics. 4 (2 for 2 of the core disciplines; 400 units total)
Extra-Disciplinary Courses: Students engage with inquiry into the nature of the mind in areas beyond the core disciplines. 2 (200 units total)


Students will generally take the Introductory Courses and Formal Foundations courses during their first two years and Disciplinary and Extra-Disciplinary courses during their third and fourth years. The order in which Disciplinary and Extra-Disciplinary courses are taken will largely depend on students’ chosen focus and course availability.

These courses and their roles in the major are described in more detail in the Courses section of this website.


Example Pathways Through the Major

Below are a few examples of potential paths through the major, each organized around a different area of focus and research in cognitive science.

Focus area: Consciousness

Formal Foundations courses
  • PHIL 20100: Elementary Logic
  • STAT 27410: Introduction to Bayesian Data Analysis
Disciplinary courses (breadth)
  • CMSC 25300 Mathematical Foundations of Machine Learning
  • LING 27010: Psycholinguistics
  • PHIL 23502: Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind
  • PSYC 28990: Constructing Consciousness: Lessons on Mind and Matter from Color and Culture
  • NSCI 22010: Neuroscience of Consciousness
Disciplinary courses (depth)
  • NSCI 21750: Ethics through a Neurobiological Lens
  • NSCI 21100: Photons to Consciousness: Cellular and Integrative Brain Functions
  • PHIL 23000: Introduction to Metaphysics and Epistemology
  • PHIL 22960: Bayesian Epistemology
Extra-Disciplinary courses
  • CHDV 23100: Human Language and Interaction
  • ENGL 12720: Inventing Consciousness: Literature, Philosophy, Psychology


Focus area: Language and Cognition

Formal Foundations courses
  • LING 20120: Formal Foundations of Linguistics
  • CHDV 39301: Qualitative Research Methods
Disciplinary courses (breadth)
  • CMSC 25700: Natural Language Processing
  • LING 27010: Psycholinguistics
  • PHIL 24010: Meaning and Reference
  • PSYC 23200: Introduction to Language Development
  • NSCI 21000: Social Neuroscience
Disciplinary courses (depth)
  • LING 20201: Introduction to Syntax
  • LING 20301: Introduction to Semantics and Pragmatics
  • PSYC 21510: Neuroscience of Communication
  • PSYC 20400: Cognitive Psychology
Extra-Disciplinary courses
  • CHDV 23100: Human Language and Interaction
  • CRES 37500: Language and Globalization


Focus area: Cognition, AI and the Internet

Formal Foundations courses
  • CMSC 15100: Introduction to Computer Science 1
  • MATH 19620: Linear Algebra
Disciplinary courses (breadth)
  • CMSC 28400: Introduction to Cryptography
  • LING 28600: Computational Linguistics
  • PHIL 25510: Know How
  • PSYC 21690: Media and Psychology: Causes and Consequences of Media Use Across the Lifespan
  • NSCI 22400: Neuroscience of Seeing
Disciplinary courses (depth)
  • CMSC 11111: Creative Coding
  • CMSC 23220: Inventing, Engineering and Understanding Interactive Devices
  • PSYC 21109: Concepts and Categories
  • PSYC 20600: Social Psychology
Extra-Disciplinary courses
  • MAAD 15521: Music and the History of AI
  • SOCI 20513: Beyond Hashtags: Social Movements in Digital Society


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